[image via Gazelle USA]
If I were in the market for a Dutch bike specifically, I think I would buy a Gazelle. Currently produced Gazelle bicycles are missing some of the charming details of their predecessors, such as the lugged connector between the curved top tube and the downtube, and the traditional bolted seatcluster. But they still have an attractive lugged fork crown, a predominantly lugged frame, and an elegant overall look. I would buy not the Toer Populair, but the Basic model (3 speed with coaster brake) for $859, and replace the saddle with my own. I prefer Gazelle to Batavus, because it seems better made. I prefer Gazelle to Workcycles, mainly because the Workcycles is too heavy for me. Also, both Workcycles and Batavus bikes have unicrown forks rather than lugged crown forks, and I just can't bring myself to choose a bike with that feature if I have other options.
One Dutch bike I have not yet tried is Achielle (which now has a US distributor), so I cannot say whether I'd prefer it to the Gazelle. Unlike most other modern Dutch bikes, it is still made in the EU and the pictures look fantastic, but nonetheless it is impossible to know without trying. If anybody's ridden one and can compare it to the other Dutch bikes, I'd love to hear about it.
[image via Bella Ciao]
If I were looking for a light but classic transportation bicycle, the choice is really just between the Italians: Abici and Bella Ciao. I would, and did, choose a Bella Ciao, because I prefer its ride quality and frame construction. I find the Bella Ciao to be less aggressive than the Abici, while being equally lightweight and fast - which, to me, makes for a more comfortable ride. And the unicrown fork on the Abici is, again, just not something I can live with. I also prefer the Bella Ciao's chaincase and handlebars, but those points are relatively minor in comparison. Both Abici and Bella Ciao frames are made in Italy.
[image via Adeline Adeline]
And finally, if I were looking for a midweight bicycle, I would buy a Retrovelo - the 3-speed Klara model for $1,450. Retrovelo bicycles are beautifully constructed, with impeccable lugwork and a mouth-wateringly gorgeous triple plate fork crown. And more importantly, I don't know of a single Retrovelo owner as of yet who is unhappy with the bike. Compared to Pashley and Velorbis, the Retrovelo is somewhat faster and does better up hills, as well as feels cushier over potholes. The handlebars and stem are not my cup of tea, and I do wish it had a coaster brake and a full chaincase. But the bike is otherwise so nice, that I find these features alarmingly easy to ignore. In short: I want one, but have absolutely no excuse and no money to get it.
While I hope this explains my own selection process, it would be good to hear different opinions. The new bike shopping season is just around the corner and many are starting to research bicycles again. Which bicycle did you choose to buy, or would you now choose to buy - and why? If you already own a classic transportation bike, are you happy with it, or are you considering switching to another?